OUR OPINION: PAY FREEZE
This newspaper has advised local governments to hold the line on wages during our economic downturn and we're glad to see President Barack Obama's call for a two-year pay freeze for federal workers. Congress, which has to approve the legislation for such a move, should quickly implement this freeze.
Any number of studies have shown the wage/benefit compensation levels of federal employees far exceed that of private sector workers. This cannot continue.
For full impact, the wage freeze must be accompanied by a reduction in the number of federal workers. In the midst of a major recession the number of workers has actually increased.
With a federal deficit that's expected to top $1 trillion next year, the $2 billion in savings from a federal pay freeze may be criticized as largely symbolic. Still, the money saved will be real dollars and the potential freeze indicates that the voters' unhappiness with business as usual has been duly noted by Washington.
There's not much time left before this Congress adjourns for good and we'd like to see some work get done by this lame duck Congress. Obama and Republicans have differed on the subject of which of the Bush era tax cuts might be extended. Republicans favor extending all of the tax cuts while Obama has called for not extending tax cuts for the wealthy. Maybe a compromise can be reached in which all the tax cuts can be extended in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits which recently expired.
Looking toward the new congressional session that starts in January, we hope Republicans and Democrats realize the severity and scope of the problems that face this nation. There is a time and place for politics, but the 2010 elections are now over and this is when the American people expect their elected officials to put their nation's interest before that of their party or their own political futures.